Recent Posts in holiday music

December 28, 2015

photos by Greg Cristman

Darlene Love @ B.B. King's Blues Club 12/23/2015
Darlene Love

Having sung with The Crystals (anonymously) and with many other Phil Spector wall-of-sound groups/productions, Darlene Love is one of the voices behind some of '60s pop's biggest hits. Believe it or not, she she hadn't released a new solo album since 1988...until this year's Introducing Darlene Love, that is. Produced by superfan Steven Van Zandt the album has an impressive cast behind the curtain, with songs written for her by Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, and Van Zandt, plus ones by Joan Jett, Linda Perry, Jimmy Webb, and more. You can stream the whole thing, via Spotify, below.

Darlene's powerful pipes are also, in a lot of ways, synonymous with the holidays as she was one of the featured performers on the classic A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. She also entertains NYC ever year with a holiday run at B.B. King's, and we caught the December 23 show where she played both holiday favorites and songs from the new album. Pictures are in this post.

You can catch the last of her "Love For The Holidays" show again at B.B. King's on Saturday (January 2). She's also playing BB King's on January 16 as part of the APAP Conference, and then again at the club on February 11. Tickets for all those BB King's shows are on sale. She'll also play play Brooklyn College's Walt Whitman Theatre on April 2 (tickets).

She's got a lot more tour dates coming up, including a few in NY & NJ and all are listed below.

Continue reading "Darlene Love released her first solo LP in 27 years (listen), continuing holiday run at BB King's (pics) ++ other tour dates"

photo: Lauryn Hill at Rough Trade in February (more by PSquared)
Lauryn Hill @ Rough Trade

Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem were not the only artists to offer up Christmas presents this year. Lauryn Hill dropped an unfinished version of a new song titled "A Cradle in Bethlehem" which she wanted to share in time for the holidays. You can have a listen below.

Lauryn also has a few shows around New Year's, including NYC's Brooklyn Bowl on Monday, January 4. Tickets  go on sale to the general public on Wednesday (12/30) at 10 AM with a fan presale starting Tuesday (12/29) at 10 AM (use code MLH2016BB).

All dates are listed below...

Continue reading "Lauryn Hill shared a new song on Christmas Day, playing Brooklyn Bowl this week ++ other dates"

December 24, 2015

Christmas in Sweden

Christmas traditions vary around the world. For example, in Sweden the whole country basically shuts down to watch a 1958 Donald Duck holiday special? Would you like to know more about Swedish Christmas? Jocke from the still-going Teddybears hosts a four-part documentary series that tells us, in his dry, acerbic style, about other traditions like The Tomte (their not-so-nice version of Santa), St. Lucia's Day (December 13), the Gävlebocken (a giant goat in Gävle that ends up getting set on fire every year), and more.

Watch below...

Continue reading "watch "Christmas in Sweden with Teddybears""

December 21, 2015

by Bill Pearis

Dent May

You may remember Dent May's holiday ditty from last year "I'll Be Stoned for Christmas" which is better than your average tossed-off indie yuletide jingle. He's now made a video for the single, directed Robbie Hillyer Barnett, that tells the familiar tale of going home to your parents, being bored, and seeking ways to be less bored. Watch it below.

Related: Nellie McKay says all she wants for Christmas is "Weed."

Continue reading "watch Dent May's "I'll Be Stoned for Christmas" video"

December 4, 2015

by Bill Pearis

Sparks christmas without a prayer

Art pop icons Sparks have released a holiday single, "Christmas Without a Prayer." As you might expect it's on the darkly comic side, offering up a look at Christmas alone, that is not necessarily a bad thing. "No one to buy me things I don't want / bright colored ties / monogramed things / an album by Wings." You can check out the song's lyric video below.

In addition to the terrific FFS album they made this year with Franz Ferdinand, Sparks also put out a box set, The Island Years, which collects the band's four albums for the label from 1974 - 1976 (Kimono My House, Propaganda, Indiscreet, Big Beat) plus a newly-created adaptation of the 1979 compilation, The Best Of Sparks, which they've retitled The Rest Of Sparks featuring all their b-sides from the Island era, and some songs that have never been available on vinyl. The remaster and cut was supervised by Sparks associate Inglot, for those that worry about stuff like that. You can check out a video promo for the box set, plus artwork and tracklist, below.

Continue reading "Sparks release "Christmas Without a Prayer" (watch the video) ++ new 'The Island Years' vinyl box set"

A Charlie Brown Christmas

It's the 50th anniversary of beloved holiday special A Charlie Brown Christmas, which first aired December 9, 1965. It already aired on TV this year, but there's a new 50th Anniversary DVD edition, and it's available for streaming and you can watch below.) The music in the episode, by the Vince Gauraldi Trio, has become as much a part of the holiday season as the special itself. The 2009 box set, The Definitive Vince Gauraldi, has just been reissued on vinyl and includes 31 tracks recorded by Guaraldi between 1955 and 1966 across four LPs. The Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack is also available on vinyl.

In other news, A Charlie Brown Christmas is being performed live in Brooklyn this month at Redwood Studios in Gowanus. (In years past it was performed at Brooklyn Lyceum.) The production performs the special "word for word and gesture for gesture set to a jazz trio performing the amazing Vince Guaraldi score." Here are the dates and showtimes:

Friday December 11th­ 8pm
Saturday December 12th ­ 1pm, 4pm & 7pm
Sunday December 13th ­ 1pm, 4pm & 7pm
Friday December 18th­ 7pm
Saturday December 19th ­ 1pm, 4pm & 7pm
Sunday December 20th ­ 1pm, 4pm & 7pm
Tickets are on sale now.

For more seasonal entertainment, check out our guide to NYC holiday events and shows.

Continue reading "'A Charlie Brown Christmas' celebrates 50th anniversary, being performed live in Brooklyn"

A Very Murray Christmas

Bill Murray's "A Very Murray Christmas" Netflix special was released today for your holiday streaming pleasure. The special features appearances by George Clooney, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Michael Cera, Rashida Jones, Jenny Lewis, Miley Cyrus, Chris Rock, Jason Schwartzman, and former Saturday Night Live and Letterman musical director Paul Schaffer, with whom Murray revives a little of his SNL lounge singer character. Directed by Sofia Coppola, it also has her husband Thomas Mars' band Phoenix who perform "Alone on Christmas Day," a cover of a Beach Boys holiday song from 1979 that was never formally released. Murray joins in on the chorus. That, you may remember, was released as a Record Store Day Black Friday 7" and you can now stream it below.

Continue reading "Bill Murray's Netflix holiday special out now; listen to his and Phoenix's cover of Beach Boys' "Alone on Christmas Day""

December 3, 2015

by Bill Pearis

Nick Offerman Yule Log

The TV "yule log" -- a live broadcast of a fireplace -- is a holiday tradition that started here in NYC in 1966 on station WPIX. Others have copied the concept since but leave it to Nick Offerman to take it to new, Offermanian heights. Ostensibly an ad for Lagavulin, the Nick Offerman 'Yule Log' is 45 minutes of the comedian sitting in a big leather chair, by a fire, drinking scotch whiskey. Short of him eating a giant porterhouse while doing so, this is about as Nick Offerman as it gets.

Offerman is also in the new season of FX's Fargo, which is really, really good.

Continue reading "warm yourself by the glow of Nick Offerman's 'Yule Log'"

December 1, 2015

by Bill Pearis

Deep Sea Diver

Seattle's Deep Sea Diver will return with new album, Secrets, on February 19 via the band's own High Beam Records. Frontperson Jessica Dobson, who has played in The Shins and Beck's band, is an adept guitarist with a powerful voice and strong sense of dynamics, as can be heard on Secrets' title track. Stream that below.

Deep Sea Diver also just released a holiday EP, It's Christmas Time, with covers of four Christmas classics. "The First Noel" is pretty gorgeous, putting the English carol (that's over 200 years old) through their ethereal, anthemic style. Stream the whole EP below...

Deep Sea Diver will be on tour next year with Radiation City. You can still get tickets to their NYC show at Rough Trade on March 3. All tour dates are listed below.

Continue reading "Deep Sea Diver releasing new album & Christmas EP (stream "The First Noel") ++ tour dates"

November 30, 2015

Dee Snider (second from left) and his other Celebrity Apprentice contestants
Dee Snider

Donald Trump hasn't had much luck getting permission to use pop songs on his presidential campaign, having been denied by Neil Young, R.E.M., Steven Tyler and more. But he finally found one: Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It." The Donald and the hair-metal vets are old pals, as singer Dee Snider was on Trump's All-Star Celebrity Apprentice back in 2013 -- he was fired. Snyder spoke to Canadian about Trump using the song:

He called and he asked, which I appreciated. I said, 'Look, we don't see eye to eye on everything--there are definitely issues that we're far apart on.' But thinking back to when I wrote the song and what the song is about, it's about rebellion, speaking your mind and fighting the system. If anybody's doing that, he sure is. Trump and Bernie Sanders are the two extremes. They're raising holy hell and shaking everything up. That's what 'We're Not Gonna Take It' is about. And we're friends. I have spent time with Donald and his family. I don't think either of us expected that we would like each other, but you know, Donald Trump is a pretty chill guy. He's a frontman. When that camera goes on, he furls his brow, he does his thing. Off-camera he's very self-deprecating. He makes jokes about being too orange and about his hair.
Dee Snider is currently celebrating the holiday season every night in Toronto with his "Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale." The musical, which Snider wrote and which made its debut in Chicago last year, is a Faustian tale about a past-their-prime metal band willing to sell their soul to the Devil but are thwarted by the Christmas spirit.